Serendipity Gardens: Gardens make good gathering spaces

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2017

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Over the years I’ve come to realize what a gathering place my gardens are. From family, friends, neighbors and strangers, we have gathered in the gardens for tours, reunions, visits to my Little Free Library or just for a chat. I have even hosted a fundraiser one year for my church. Gardens can bring back wonderful memories of special people, places or events.

Hosting garden tours has always been such a memorable experience, as I’ve gotten to meet so many other gardeners and shared information with them. Children are so much fun as you watch their excitement when they meet a tree frog for the first time or a butterfly lands on their arm. Gardens are meant for people of all ages to enjoy.

Carol Hegel Lang

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Our Little Free Library sits along the front entry garden next to the public sidewalk with a small bench for the youngsters to sit and peruse the books before making their choice of which one to take home to read. I have seen a quote by an unknown author that states,“If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

So often, children will wander into the gardens while they visit the library to take a look around, and I love telling them about the wildlife they see and the flowers that attract beneficial insects to them.

The gardens are also a gathering place for wildlife where they can find shelter, water and food. Mr. Raccoon that has been raiding my peanut feeders got quite the surprise the other night when he met Roosevelt for the first time face to face. It was hilarious to watch as Roosevelt ran right smack dab into the coon as he was trying to escape to the safety of the Japanese maple tree. It came as a shock to both of them, but now they both know what to do when they see each other. Roosevelt is no match for the chubby and slow coon.

For years I have kept a journal of daily happenings, weather conditions, visitors both human and animal to the gardens. It is always interesting to look back and see what visited them on a certain date years past. Visitors to the gardens are always amazed at all the different varieties of birds, butterflies and insects they see in them. No doubt having so many bird feeders, bird baths (heated in cold weather), seed heads left standing on plants during the winter and the shelter my trees provide add to the numbers and species that visit. In years past I have had the honor of hosting a Carolina Wren in winter, a Western Tanager in spring and this fall a Nashville Warbler adding to the excitement in the gardens.

One year we held my Twito family cousin reunion on the same weekend that the Goodmanson family hosted theirs here in Albert Lea. I got to meet family from all over the United States that I had never met before that were related to both of these families. We had a large tent on the lawn in between the gardens and we filled it with people and lots of food to enjoy and even had Lucia Hunta (our family mascot) make an appearance that day. What a fun-filled day it was for all of us. We are still talking about it. Now I am friends with these family members on Facebook so we have been able to keep up on all their families that have now added spouses, children and pets. You gotta love technology.

I’d like to thank each and every person who has visited Serendipity Gardens and our Little Free Library over the years as you have all enriched my life, and I have loved hearing your stories and giving you a tour of the gardens. If you have never visited the gardens, I invite you to stop by in 2018 and meet me and the gardens and let us share stories and memories together. I can also introduce you to Roosevelt and the feral cats.

“One’s enjoyment is doubled when one can share it with a friend.” — Marie Antionette

Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at